Activision’s ‘Call Of Duty’ Facts

With Call of Duty: Ghosts set to reach a huge audience this holiday season, Activision has chosen to celebrate the occasion by releasing a few facts about the franchise in general — and the numbers are quite staggering indeed.

An estimated 1900 combined years of Call of Duty multiplayer have been invested since the series’ inception. That means if a single player went through it all on their own, they would’ve had to start back in 112 AD.

The series has seen 1.9 quadrillion respawns in multiplayer matches over the years, which is 266,816 times the Earth’s current population of seven billion.

In addition, called-in UAV’s, which help triangulate the position of enemies on the ground, have been shot down 813 million times in multiplayer damage, causing a total of $3.4 quadrillion dollars in damage — 5,422 times what the Federal spending budget is at the moment.

Finally, 18 billion multiplayer matches have been played in all, with the numbers sure to grow over the week now that Call of Duty: Ghosts is available for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC and Wii U. The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 editions of the game will release later this month.

Source: Prima Games

 

Twitch And Machinima Partner

Many people already turn to the online channel Twitch.tv for their game streaming services, as they demonstrated over the past weekend with the charity-driven Extra Life event. However, it’s about to get a boost in original programming as well.

Twitch has struck a deal with one of the biggest YouTube entertainment networks out there, Machinima. With it, it plans to bring new eSports programming to Twitch’s audience of 45 million unique viewers. The shows will run on a streaming schedule, which is currently being set up.

Machinima currently garners 200 million viewers a month with a number of programs, including the recently run Mortal Kombat Legacy: Season 2. The new programs will deliver “a television vibe with a live feel,” according to Machinima’s Director of eSports and Live Content, Ryan Wyatt. “Machinima content in a live format is something that gamers should just love,” he explained.

Other shows include Operation Game Drop and Machinima Dark Room, though premiere dates weren’t given just yet. The programming could also change, depending what Twitch’s audience may be in the mood for.

“Hearing what the community has to say is important,” said Wyatt. “It won’t work if they don’t watch. Because we know our audience, the ads will be stuff they are actually into, which is a great way to build trust.”

Source: Mashable

Wii Mini Comes To U.S.

Even though the company has moved on to next-generation hardware with the Wii U, Nintendo of America isn’t letting go of the original Wii just yet.

The company has announced that it will release the latest model of the popular system, the Wii Mini, on store shelves later this month. It is able to play all the Wii disc games that have been released, but has no access to its online features, such as downloadable games or online play through the Nintendo Network. In addition, backwards compatibility with GameCube software has been removed. The Mini has been on sale in Canada for months, but not available in other territories.

The system comes with a red and black mini-console, a red Wii Remote Plus, and a copy of the hit racing game Mario Kart Wii. It will sell for $99.99 – a small price to pay compared to the $299.99 the Wii U currently sells for. With no Internet access included, though, the Wii mini can’t be used for Netflix or other such services.

An exact date of release hasn’t been given, but it should hit the market in time for Black Friday.

Source: Prima Games

Steam Machine Prototype Revealed

First announced last month, Valve’s Steam Machines have sent some buyers into a frenzy, with the capability of playing popular PC games through the convenience of a living room television. Today, the company provided a glimpse of the prototype it would be sending out to select players later this year.

The machine provides a sleek, gray-ish design with a glowing white light on the front of the machine, along with a plug-in for a device on the front – possibly the Steam controller. The company put it together to provide third-party software manufacturers a base model to work off of, and as a unit for their 300 beta testers.

The SteamOS based unit can have computer hardware swapped out. In fact, as we reported previously, the 300 units will vary when it comes to graphics cards that are installed, ranging from a Nvidia GTX660 to a Titan. Cooling is aided by the case design, which keeps airflow separate for the power supply, graphics card and motherboard.

The company has also stated that the Steam Machines will get their first true unveiling at CES 2014, with the possibility of a release sometime during the summer. A variety of manufacturers will be showing models at CES, along with pricing. Valve will be manufacturing the controllers themselves.

Source: Polygon

‘Metal Gear Solid 5’ Splits In Two

Ever since its announcement last year, Konami has been mum on the release plans for Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain. Yesterday, however, it clarified those plans a bit, and even gave a release window for the first chapter.

Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes will make is debut in spring 2014, and serve as a precursor for The Phantom Pain. The game, available via download for all consoles or retail for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, will put players back in the shoes of “Big Boss,” instead of Solid Snake. Players will take control of him as he sneaks into a prison camp in the hopes of freeing a refugee.

Ground Zeroes will introduce a “concentrated story mode” that will prepare players for the action that lies ahead in The Phantom Pain. It’ll sell for $19.99 for download on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, or $29.99 for retail versions of those games, as well as downloads for Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

There’s no word yet on when The Phantom Pain will release, but it’s likely to be in late 2014.

Source: Prima Games

Tablets Conquer Kid’s TV Shows

Who knew that the iPad would be an ideal destination for your kids to watch television

A Nielsen report indicates that kids viewing programs on tablets have reached an impressive number of 16.5 million. As a result, there have been some shifts by certain providers in terms of what content will be available — and what may be exclusive.

The Walt Disney Company announced a new Disney Junior series called Sheriff Callie’s Wild West, which will stream to tablets first before making their way to the regular channel. Starting on November 24, subscribers to the channel can download the Disney Junior app to watch the show, among others that are available. Those who don’t wish to do so can still watch the programming, though Sheriff won’t air until early 2014.

Though it has yet to set up such plans, Cartoon Network is also grateful for the younger viewing audience. “In the past year and a half, we’ve seen video viewing just skyrocket across mobile,” said Beau Teague, senior director of user experience. “Our mobile viewing has surpassed even viewing on the desktop site.”

“We definitely see a lot of repeat viewing,” Teague continued. “Kids will return to favorite episodes and favorite clips. They’ll seek out whatever the catch phrase was from last night’s episode of Adventure Time.

With the numbers on the rise, don’t be surprised if other programmers follow Disney’s example.

Source: Adweek

Industry Leaders Describe The Future

The GamesBeat conference last week showcased a wide variety of speakers in the game industry, covering topics ranging from advertising to technology to design. The [a]list daily was there, and we’ll look at some of the highlights from the presentations. Industry leaders discussed the present and the future, and the show wrapped with a contest for the most innovative game.

The next billion-dollar investment opportunity in the game industry was discussed by a panel of seasoned venture capitalists, who agreed that Asia is where the money is coming from. Tim Merel of Digi-Capital said that eight out of the ten largest transactions this year came out of Asia. “Scale is driving that,” Merel said, noting the increasing size of Asian game companies like Tencent and the ready availability of capital in Asian markets.

Panelists agreed that while wearable computing holds interesting prospects, messaging software is rapidly becoming an important gaming platform in Asia — and may soon replicate that in Western markets. “Six of the top ten games in South Korea are based on KakaoTalk,” said Merel. Lars Buttler, former CEO of Trion Worlds and now a venture capitalist, noted that “A whole new ecosystem is being created around messaging,” with WeChat, QQmessenger, Line, and KakaoTalk creating massive audiences and hundreds of millions in game revenues.

What was billed as a showdown of Intuition vs. Analytics between game design and analytics, featuring Rumble Entertainment CEO Greg Richardson and Mark Robinson, COO of GameAnalytics, turned out to be mostly agreement that the two should work together. “It’s not ‘versus,’ it’s ‘and,'” said Robinson. “We need to get these two great skill sets working together. Creatives pick the right hill to conquer, and if you get 70 percent of the way up analytics can get you the rest of the way.”

Richardson advised collecting all the data you can, and invest in analyzing your own data rather than relying entirely on third parties. “What occurs to you when analyzing the data is asking the harder questions, and there you run into constraints” if you rely on third-party analysis. Richardson noted the importance of good design and analytics working together, and that we still haven’t turned that into great games very often. “Forty or fifty thousand mobile games have been introduced,” Richardson said, “But how many are classics you’ll remember in ten years A handful.” The mobile game industry has been good at building game companies, but not so good at building lasting game franchises.

On the topic of Asia’s Growing Influence on the US Game Industry, Nexon’s CFO Owen Mahoney discussed how the US game industry seems to be moving towards the business model created by Nexon. That would be the free-to-play model pioneered by Nexon, along with the sale of virtual goods. It’s been very successful for Nexon, and Mahoney points tot he company’s 40 percent operating margins and annual growth of 25 percent as proof of that contention. “About 10 percent of Nexon users pay, and they pay $20 per month on average,” Mahoney noted. He cited the need to be patient with free-to-play games, and to build deeply immersive games, which “tend to keep their users for a very long time.” His hope, and his message for Western game companies: “Don’t make junk.”

Ex-Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello has adopted a much higher profile lately as a game investor, and he spoke about why Mobile vs. Console is not the right question to ask. Riccitiello feels both will do well, and that all segments of the game industry are growing in every major geography. “We’ve seen periods where this is not true,” Riccitiello noted. The only major segment that’s down is the pay-to-play MMO, which is exemplified by World of Warcraft and the continuing erosion of its subscriber base. He noted that console usage among hard-core gamers has remained constant — “People who play every week on their console was 30 percent last year and 29 percent this year, so console usage is about the same,” he said. “It’s harder to make money for any but the biggest brands, but the biggest brands are making more.”

Queried about whether console gaming will survive, Riccitiello was bullish. “I think gaming in your living room isn’t going away any time soon,” he said. “We’ve gone from 200-300 million gamers to 1.2 billion gamers globally.” Of course, those gamers may or may not be playing on a traditional console in the future. He does, however, expect 20 to 30 percent growth in console software sales in 2014.

An interesting combination on stage later in the morning was veteran designer Will Wright and Wargaming CEO Victor Kislyi. Wright interviewed Kislyi, speaking as a tremendous fan of World of Tanks, looking for some insight as to how you build a game that attracts a huge, engaged game audience. For one thing, Kislyi is targeting a game for older guys. “A grownup comes back from work, so he has dispensable income, and he has a half hour before he goes to sleep. He can’t do World of Warcraft,” Kislyi pointed out.. “Our limit was 15 minutes, you jump in and jump out” and get a vigorous workout in that time.

One of the keys to Wargaming’s success is its focus on community. Kislyi noted that the company has 2200 employees now, and half of them work in customer service and community toles. “Half your business is listening to the customer,” Wright said. “We tried to do this from Eastern Europe, but it didn’t work — we needed to be in the different areas,” Kislyi said, explaining the wealth of regional offices that Wargaming has set up around the world.

The big focus of GamesBeat’s second day was the Who’s Got Game Innovation Showdown, where seven different game companies briefly presented their games to a panel of judges. The winner received a Virtuix Omni, personal counseling from expert game industry advisors, and a nifty additional selling point for their game. The games presented showed a broad range of innovation in platform, design, business models and subject matter.

Goblinworks showed off Pathfinder Online, an unusual MMO based on the best-selling fantasy roleplaying game. The game is like EVE Online set in a fantasy realm, where all the players can build or destroy their own part of the world. It’s moving towards beta early in 2014 and full release later in the year. Next up was The Elements Club, an interactive romance adventure that is expressed in a variety of media, including ebooks, interactive ebooks, video, casual games, and social events. There’s a tremendous attention to period detail and a strong focus on the romance fan, but this model is one that creator Karen Snyder plans to use for a wide variety of genres.

Next up was a very different game, oMobio, which uses the camera in mobile platforms as the basis for casual games. The smartphone uses edge detection to create parts of a level, so your selection of what to picture becomes an important part of the game play. It’s like Instagram meets World of Goo. Pixelberry Studios showed High School Story, a social game that founder Oliver Mao hopes can be an important way to help teens deal with social problems before they become too severe. Playground Sessions is a mobile game that’s designed to help you learn to play the piano by picking the pieces you want to learn, using expert video tutoring on piano technique.

RivalMe is a personalized trivia game for Facebook, iOS and Android that selects questions based on your social graph — think of it as Trivia With Friends. The game is also being white-labeled, already in use by UCLA and Shaquille O’Neal. Finally, ZowPow showed off their technology that turns plush toys into gaming controllers — it’s a low-power Bluetooth sensor that can be built into a plush toy you can use as a controller for playing games. ZowPow was declared the winner by the judges, possibly swayed by the sight of using a plush airplane to control a game.

Netflix Testing 4K Video

Netflix, always interested in gaining new viewers to its streaming service, has begun rolling out a series of test videos that work in compliance with 4K televisions, such as the new Sony 4K Bravia line. These videos have been recorded at a number of speeds, ranging from 24 to 59.95 frames per second, and can be viewed on standard high-definition televisions as well.

The move is to help the company ease in to possible 4K streaming video programming for the service, though obviously it would keep regular standard and high-definition feeds for most audiences. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has indicated that he wants the company to become “one of the big suppliers of 4K” content during the next coming year.

In order for viewers to get the most out of the content, they’ll need a premium bandwidth package through their Internet provider to get the highest streaming speed possible, without any sort of buffering issues. Super HD 1080p content, for example, requires a minimum of 5 Mbps of bandwidth to stream properly. Netflix recommends even higher, running around 7 Mbps to 12 Mbps.

No word yet on what new programming will utilize the service yet. Currently, 4K TVs are just beginning to hit the market at relatively high prices (Sony’s line starts at $3500), though Seiki has introduced a 4K TV for less than $1200.

Source: Digital Trends

Sony PocketStation Returns

It may be obscure to most folks, but some game players are familiar with Sony’s PocketStation. It’s a 1999 memory card that worked with the company’s original PlayStation console, with a 32 X 32 pixel monochrome LCD display that played games and worked with certain game titles. It was built following a similar reveal by Sega for the VMU, or Virtual Memory Unit device, for the Dreamcast console.

So why mention it now, in 2013 Simple – Sony may be bringing it back. The company revealed a surprise new teaser video, viewable below, that hints it could be back in production very soon. This would mark the first time it would be in circulation since its discontinuing in 2002. The video is a fake news story: “There’s something going to be announced! I think it’s in that truck! Let’s follow it!” The reporter follows the truck to Tokyo, where a sign tells you that the PocketStation will be revealed on November 5. You do glimpse the PocketStation mascot, though there’s no explanation.

No word yet if it’s a device, or an app, or if it will work with any of Sony’s current systems, like the forthcoming PlayStation 4, but we should know more soon.

Source: Computer and Video Games

 

Nintendo 3DS Sales Decline

While the Nintendo 3DS will no doubt see huge sales during this holiday season, that’s coming after a decline in sales for the current year..

Nintendo’s latest financial report indicates that sales for the system for the current half of the year, running from April through September 2013, reached 3.89 million worldwide. While impressive, it’s a drop from the 5.06 million sales in the previous year.

Not all the news is bad, however. Out of those sales, the enlarged 3DS XL model has seen a boost in sales, going from last year’s 2.1 million to 2.9 this year. Software sales increased from 19 million units in the first six months of last fiscal year to 27 million units this fiscal year, and impressive increase.

In addition, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, the company’s latest release in the adventurous simulation series, has sold 2.5 million copies worldwide in the last six months. Throwing in pre-April sales on top of that, the game has sold an impressive 6 million copies to date.

To date, 34.98 million 3DS systems have been sold globally, while software sales sit at 122 million.

With such games as Mario Party: Island Tour and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds still set to release before the holidays, the numbers should be on the rise again.

Source: Computer and Video Games